Mural on Devonport Road, Shepherd's Bush
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Monday, 9 September 2013
Saturday, 7 September 2013
First Serpentine swim of the Summer. Can't believe it's taken so long.
15 mins without a wetsuit. Not as hardcore as many who are in the club but it's a start. I was doing an hour with a wetsuit before swimming the Hellespont but that was before I knackered my elbow surfing (swimmer's elbow I'm told). After a summer of searing the heat the water in the Hyde Park lake was actually surprisingly warm.
No pain in the elbow today so I'm frankly elated. Refreshing start to the weekend.
Friday, 6 September 2013
So to make the best pulled pork possible they say you need a smoker. After much research and testing I think you can make the sweetest, smoky meat in the world without one. It's cheating if, like me, you love BBQs but, Hell! it's hard to BBQ meat without a smoker for 9 hours! Here was the delicious resulting bun complete with chipotle & confit garlic coleslaw and chunky gherkin...
I recently celebrated my 30th party and decided I wanted the main meal to be a celebration of the best dinner I had in the last 12 months - pulled pork and pickle-backs at Pitt Cue, London (map). They have an incredible BBQ joint in Soho which is well worth whatever queue there may be - grab a pint and form an orderly queue. They also used to have a van on the Southbank by Waterloo Bridge which has often been the near death of me as I gorged on meat treats pre-watching 3 hours of Shakespeare at the Globe... eating-induced-narcolepsy is not my friend. Pulled pork is so-named as it's a cut of meat - usually the shoulder - cooked for so long on so low a temperature that it falls off the bone and can be pulled apart with a spoon - or as I like to say - it's so tender you can cut it with your tongue.
For anyone who's not sure of pickle-backs - it's a shot of whiskey (rye/bourbon/Irish) followed by a chaser shot of pickle brine juice (think of the juice pickled onions or gherkins come in). Sounds rank. But trust me, it's delicious as a combo. Apparently there's some umami thing going on that makes the sum of the parts bigger... Just give it a shot. Frankly, if you're going in for pulled pork it's a great drink for cutting through any grease. Do burger go well with gherkins, my friend?
I researched pulled pork recipes at Sorted Food, the ever brilliant DJ BBQ, the Pitt Cue cook book (freaking amazing - here) and also from the Guardian's excellent article. DJ BBQ, the spandex-wearing Axel Rose of the kitchen, is my BBQ hero and is a firm believer in the smoker. He's made it an art. With his guiding I set out but had to find an alternative to his smoker. Check out his video for making your own rub - he uses coffee and chili which I'm a massive fan of. His ethos is 'dude, just go for it, make it your own':
I followed DJ BBQ and Pitt Cue's meat rub guides mainly. Heavy on flavour: fennel seeds, fine salt, smoked paprika, paprika, soft dark brown sugar, oregano, garlic, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coffee beans (thanks DJ BBQ), chili, cayenne pepper, cloves (thanks Sorted Food)... all crushed up and rubbed into the meat.
Having done a trial run for myself I embarked on cooking this on the Friday for my party on the Saturday - you cook it the day before, let it rest and then reheat once the flavours have developed even further.
I got the shoulder from the butcher - I needed about both shoulders of the pig because I was having one big hoe down.
I then rubbed 2/3 of the ground rub into the meat and roasted for an hour in an open tray at about 180 degrees - I'd love to say it was fan assisted but I was using an Aga and learned that these do not come with thermometers - luckily pulled pork is forgiving! Here's a before and after...
Once nuked for an hour, here's the sneaky bit - I added 'Liquid Smoke' buy here. This magic sauce is the product of water passed through the smoke of a thousand Hickory BBQs - or something similar. It is the key to faking smoking your meat. It gives that smoky flavour without you ever having to light a fire. Once you've applied the smoky sauce, enclose the meat in silver foil, drop the temperature - hard to do in an Aga it turns out so I ended up playing squad rotation in an assortment of cooking compartments. I went for about 90-100 degrees (I think!). Then cooked the bad boy for 7 hours. No opening - no peaking - just trust.
Frothing a little at the mouth and pacing around the room for the final hour with redneck anticipation, I finally got to unveil what by then had made the house smell like a meaty slice of heaven.
Now take out the meaty silver foil parcels and pour off any juice - keep this, my son! You should be able to tear the pork with a fork. But hold back! This meat's going for one more trip to the cooker - this time with no covering. Send it back into the hot place for 15 mins at 200 degrees to crisp up a bit - much needed after being in that moisture filled silver foil package.
Now take it out of the oven and leave to rest for 30 mins - have a well earned beer - you are almost done.
Ahh, refreshed? Now get your trusty forks and pulled that pork apart! Once you've pulled that beast into shreds, you'll notice the inner parts haven't been exposed to the seasoning - that's what the remaining rub is for. Sprinkle that over the meat and also pour in the juices you collected earlier. Give it all a good mix. Now if you can handle it - and clearly you will by now have eaten a handful of pulled pork - of course you will have, it's beyond the will of man to resist - if you can handle it, cover the meat and leave it to soak up all the moisture and mature for 24 hours in the fridge. It's well worth it. Prior to serving heat it through. Voila.
To accompany, get some sliced buns, go as fancy as you like, I used non-sesame seed covered burger buns, big ol' pickled cucumber slices, coleslaw and chipotle hot sauce courtesy of my friend Emma. I served it with a side of Pitt Cue baked beans and a few green leaves.
The opening toast was via pickle-backs. A bit of a Marmite response to the shots but certainly an experience for everyone. The pulled pork went down a storm and now people have somewhere to go to get the recipe.
The perfect birthday meal - here's to you Pitt Cue for the inspiration!